Engaging Methuen Readers

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Books for the Green Energy Revolution

Maybe you’ve noticed and maybe you haven’t, but alternative energy is all the rage. Who wants to live on an overheated planet? Not this librarian! Green energy doesn’t have to be super expensive. In fact, the library has resources that can help you get it cheap and even build it yourself. Start with these excellent picks from the Merrimack Valley Library Consortium!

Cover image for Careers in green energyCareers in Green Energy by Laura Mars

Sure, solar panels can be expensive, but they also pay well! Whether or not you can personally use green energy on your home right now, you can still contribute to the revolution (and make a little green of your own on the way.)

Cover image for Do-it-yourself projects to get you off the grid :Do-It-Yourself Projects to Get You Off the Grid: Rain Barrels, Chicken Coops, Solar Panels, and More from; edited by Noah Weinstein

I told you there would be a book that showed you how to build a solar panel! If you’re not familiar with, then it’s worth your while to click over before you borrow this book. It’s a great resource for all things DIY, and it hosts a thriving community of DIY solar-panel makers.

Cover image for The energy wise home :The Energy Wise Home: Practical Ideas for Sustainable Living by Jeff Dondero

From insulation to efficient appliances to renewable energy for your home, this book covers it all from soup to nuts. If you want to start at the top and learn everything there is to know about making your home as efficient and environmentally friendly as possible, this is your book.

Cover image for The homeowner's energy handbook :The Homeowner’s Energy Handbook: Your Guide to Getting Off the Grid by Paul Scheckel

Getting “off the grid” may be the holy grail of the sustainability movement, but you’ll find that you can cherry-pick what works best for you from this useful and interesting book.

Cover image for Musings of an energy nerd :Musings of an Energy Nerd: Toward an Energy-Efficient Home by Martin Holladay

The Energy Nerd had a great blog where you can still read all about how to make your home more efficient. After all, reducing your use is a great first step to becoming more environmentally conscious!


Cover image for Real Goods solar living sourcebook :

Real Goods Solar Living Sourcebook: Your Complete Guide to Living Beyond the Grid with Renewable Energy Technologies and Sustainable Living by John Schaeffer

With an introduction by’s Bill McKibben, this book is a standout for alternative energy aficionados. If you’ve read through the basic energy-saving books and want more, then this is where to turn.

Cover image for Renewable energy :Renewable Energy: a Primer for the Twenty-First Century by Bruce Usher

What’s all this renewable energy business about, anyway? If you want to have an intelligent conversation about sustainable power, then this is the book you need to read first. You’ll be glad you did when you can fluently explain the history of humanity’s energy use and how humanity can transition from burning things for fuel to a more advanced system.

Cover image for Self-sufficiency for the 21st centurySelf-Sufficiency for the 21st Century by Dick & James Strawbridge

Don’t be intimidated by the intense title: there is some great green energy advice in these pages! You might pick up some other lifestyle tips at the same time, but don’t let that stop you.

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Eat Well With Allergy-Free Cookbooks

People with allergies don’t have to be told to avoid their triggers, but the rest of the world poses a constant hazard. Are there hazelnuts in this pastry? What about soy in this latte? The ultimate solution: cook all of your own stuff using allergen-free recipes from professional chefs. Start with these great cookbooks!


Cover image for Allergy-free and easy cooking :Allergy-Free and Easy Cooking: 30-Minute Meals without Gluten, Wheat, Dairy, Eggs, Soy, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Fish, Shellfish, and Sesame by Cybele Pascal

Pascal has a number of great cookbooks on the market. This one includes traditional recipes, like mac and cheese without dairy-based cheese. She avoids the top eight allergens without sacrificing flavor or satisfaction!


Cover image for Allergy-free cookbookAllergy-Free Cookbook by Alice Sherwood

While the previous cookbook focused on the top eight allergens, this one focuses just on the top four: gluten, eggs, nuts, and dairy. It also offers some excellent party planning advice!


Cover image for Allergy-free cooking :Allergy-Free Cooking: how to survive the elimination diet and eat happily ever after by Eileen Rhude Yoder

The way many people discover that they have an allergy is by using the elimination diet. This eating strategy calls for users to eliminate all foods containing potential allergens before gradually reintroducing potential trouble items. It can be a slog, but this book will help you get through – and maybe even enjoy it!


Cover image for The allergy-free pantry :The Allergy-Free Pantry: Make Your Own Staples, Snacks, and More Without Wheat, Gluten, Dairy, Eggs, Soy or Nuts by Colette Martin

Maybe you’re dutifully avoiding allergens, but still having reactions. That’s because a lot of staples, like bread, contain cross-contaminants and even unlisted ingredients! This book will guide you through the process of making your own basic foods and avoiding those stealth allergens.


Cover image for Cooking allergy-free :Cooking Allergy-Free: simple inspired meals for everyone by Jenna Short

As a caterer, Jenna Short knows that one serious allergen can ruin an entire banquet. Luckily, she’s ready to pass her years of experience on to you in your pursuit of good, healthy, allergen-free food!


Cover image for Fearless food :Fearless Food: allergy-free recipes for kids by Katrina Jorgensen

Allergies are especially scary when a kid is involved. Cater to your kid’s tastes without sacrificing flavor and fun! This book covers the Big 8 allergens, which includes eggs, wheat, dairy, and soy.


Cover image for The food allergy mama's easy, fast family meals :The Food Allergy Mama’s Easy, Fast Family Meals: Dairy, Egg, and Nut Free Recipes for Every Day by Kelly Rudnicki

Snacks are all well and good, but what happens when you need to make a three-course meal for your justifiably peanut-phobic family? You pull out this book! Penned by a popular blogger, it’s got everything you need for each meal of the week.


Cover image for Pure delicious :Pure Delicious: 150 Allergy-Free Recipes for Everyday and Entertaining by Heather Christo

Allergen-free parties are just better parties. You don’t have to worry about those pesky trips to the emergency room, for one thing, and for another, everybody can eat every dish! No after-party regrets here.


Cover image for The ultimate allergy-free cookbook :The Ultimate Allergy-Free Cookbook: over 150 easy-to-make recipes that contain no milk, eggs, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, fish, or shellfish by Judi and Shari Zucker.

Not only are these recipes free of allergens, but they’re also tasty and healthy! If you dislike anti-allergy recipes that seem bland or like pale imitations of other food, then this is your cookbook.

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Vegan Baking Books For Your Valentine

During these chilly winter months, there’s nothing to do except turn your kitchen into a bountiful factory of warm, gooey treats. But wait – you say you went vegan as a New Year’s resolution? Don’t panic. Your cupcakes can be just as fluffy and moist without eggs and butter. Here are a few cookbooks to start you and your vegan sweet tooth out on your next adventure together.

Chloe’s Vegan Desserts: More than 100 Exciting New Recipes for Cookies and Pies, Tarts and Cobblers, Cupcakes and Cakes–and More! by Chloe Coscarelli

This book even contains recipes for ice cream. That’s right: ice cream! Coscarelli was the first vegan winner of Cupcake Wars, so you know her recipes are up to snuff.

Decadent Gluten-Free Vegan Baking: Delicious, Gluten-, Egg- and Dairy-Free Treats and Sweets by Cara Reed

If you’ve never had vegan, gluten-free chocolate churros, prepare for a new experience. This book is ideal for celiacs and other people who are avoiding gluten.

The Joy of Vegan Baking, Revised and Updated by [Patrick-Goudreau, Colleen]The Joy of Vegan Baking: The Compassionate Cooks’ Traditional Treats and Sinful Sweets by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

Here’s a book that will show you how to make and set a vegan glaze, make a vegan buttermilk, and otherwise compensate for your aversion to dairy. Check out the easy conversion table in the front matter.

Modern Vegan Baking: The Ultimate Resource for Sweet and Savory Baked Goods by Gretchen Price

These tried and true recipes come straight from the author’s vegan bakery experience. Unlike other vegan baking cookbooks, this title doesn’t rely on substitutions, but instead focuses on creating original confections from ingredients that stand on their own.

Pure Artistry: Extraordinary Vegan and Gluten-Free Cakes by Emily Lael Aumiller

Whether you’re making a special treat for your valentine or creating a cake for a wedding, this book is a must-have. There’s a trick to making any cake look pretty, but when that cake is also vegan and gluten-free, the bar is even higher! Wow those skeptics.

Quick & Easy Vegan Bake Sale: More than 150 Delicious Sweet and Savory Vegan Treats Perfect for Sharing by [Kelly, Carla]Quick and Easy Vegan Bake Sale: More Than 150 Delicious Sweet and Savory Vegan Treats Perfect For Sharing by Carla Kelly

Sometimes, you need to make something delicate and transcendent, worthy of the marriage of two vegan nobles. Other times, you need to make muffins for the junior high girls’ soccer fundraiser. This book presents an absolute slew of cookie, cupcake, pastry, and snack bar recipes appropriate for everyone from beginner to expert.

Rawsome Vegan Baking: An Un-cookbook for Raw, Gluten-Free, Vegan, Beautiful and Sinfully Sweet Cookies, Cakes, Bars & Cupcakes by Emily von Euw

You want it vegan. You want it gluten-free. And, finally, you want it raw. This book serves up all your dietary retrictions in one sweet set of delectable recipes, no flame required.

Sweet & Easy Vegan: Treats Made With Whole Grains and Natural Sweeteners by Robin Asbell

If these other vegan baking books have you a little intimidated, then you can relax with this cookbook. The recipes here are designed to be straightforward and easy for anybody to try, whether they’ve been vegan for five years or five days.

Sweet Debbie’s Organic Treats: Allergy-Free & Vegan Recipes From the Famous Los Angeles Bakery by Debbie Adler

It’s hard to quibble with an almond croissant…unless you’re allergic! This book eschews the cashew cream, peanut butter, and crumbled pistachio topping.

Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts by Fran Costigan

Calling all chocoholics! This is the vegan baking book you’ve been waiting for. Every recipe involves chocolate somehow. There’s even a beverages section for you bakers who like to enjoy a little decadent libation as you mix and pour.

Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World: 75 Dairy-Free Recipes for Cupcakes that Rule by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

Moskowitz is one of the most famous names in vegan cookery, and she and Romero have multiple books on vegan baking. This one is just about the fabulous and expansive world of vegan cupcakes. Also check out Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar and Vegan Pie in the Sky by the same authors!



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Mocktail Books To Rock Your Dry January

I’m a big fan of Dry January, the movement to abstain from alcohol for one month a year. No matter what your reasons are – weight loss, pregnancy, health, tolerance decrease, or just plain old fun – good for you! It takes a lot of willpower to avoid alcohol.

But just because you can’t get drunk doesn’t mean you can’t have fun! If you’re looking for new stuff to drink, we’ve got you covered with these non-alcoholic beverage recipe books. Cheers!

Drinking for Two: Nutritious Mocktails for the Mom-To-BeDrinking for Two: Nutritious Mocktails for the Mom-To-Be by Diana Licalzi and Kerry Criss

Everyone knows that you shouldn’t drink alcohol while you’re pregnant, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t blow off some steam! These mocktails are both delicious and nutritious.

Dry: Non-Alcoholic Cocktails, Cordials and Clever ConcoctionsDry: Non-Alcoholic Cocktails, Cordials and Clever Concoctions by Clare Liardet

A lot of the recipes in this particular book are absolutely new…and absolutely delicious! Do yourself a favor and try this magical collection of easy-to-find syrups and nonalcoholic spirits.

Mocktails, Punches, and Shrubs: Over 80 Nonalcoholic Drinks to Savor and EnjoyMocktails, Punches, and Shrubs: Over 80 Nonalcoholic Drinks to Savor and Enjoy by Vikas Khanna

The DK reference brand never disappoints! The sheer quantity of drink recipes available here is staggering. Before long, you’ll be making up your own recipes!

Mocktails: The Complete Bartender's GuideMocktails: The Complete Bartender’s Guide by Kester Thompson

Any bartender who doesn’t know how to make a delicious mocktail is a bad bartender – and you don’t want to be that! Before your next big bash, brush up on your booze-free drinks with this handy, practical guide.

Party Like A Mock Star!: Have a Booze-Free Blast with No-regrets Mocktails!Party Like a Mock Star!: Have a Booze-Free Blast with No-Regrets Mocktails! by Zoe Robinette

If you’ve ever been 16, then you know the frustration of being at a party and unable to drink. Here’s your cure! This glamorous drinks guide discusses why women drink, what they drink, and why glamorous women drink mocktails.

Zero-Proof Cocktails: Alcohol-Free Beverages for Every OccasionZero Proof Cocktails: Alcohol-Free Beverages for Every Occasion by Liz Scott

Chef Liz Scott has alternatives to every cocktail out there – and they’re just as good as their alcoholic inspirations! From Cosmo to Sangria, you’ll find all your favorites here.

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Holiday Blues Are Real. Here Are Some Resources For Dealing With Them

Feeling down because of the holidays? You’re not alone! Holiday time is a major cause of depression, so much so that the disease has come to be associated with Thanksgiving and Christmas. There’s no need to mourn your negative feelings. You’re not a Scrooge or a Grinch, you’re just stressed out by the travel, eating unusual foods, and adjusting to family members you probably don’t see over the rest of the year. No wonder you need a minute!

These resources are meant to be useful, but they’re no substitute for expert care. If you need help right away, contact a mental health therapist, the Samaritans, or, if you feel that you might be in danger, 911. If you’re in recovery and struggling with proximity to alcohol, try contacting SAMHSA’s free national helpline.


The APA Holiday Stress Resource Center

This is the mother lode of holiday depression resources. Got an uncle who gets political? They have a resource for that. Worried that you’re going to destroy the turkey? They can help you there, too.

The Cleveland Clinic’s Guide To Managing Holiday Stress

This well-known clinic treats holiday stress like any other ailment: by itemizing the symptoms and treatment. This can be very useful for anyone who’s not sure if they’re just down or if their mood will pass with the old year.

Every Imaginable Holiday Stress Topic From

From being grateful in hard times to enjoying the holidays if you’re in recovery, this list of articles runs the gamut. If it doesn’t cover every single source of stress out there, then it surely must come close.

The Mayo Clinic’s Guide To Holiday Stress Management

From setting a realistic budget to doubling down on your healthy habits, the good doctors at the Mayo Clinic know how to manage the holiday blues.

Hospice Foundation Of America Holiday Grief Support

The holidays are particularly hard if you have recently experienced a loss. In this situation, it’s especially important for you to take care of yourself. Hospices across the country run special support groups around the holidays, but this web page can provide additional help.

Editor’s Note:  For locals, the Merrimack Valley Hospice will be having a special “Coping With the Holidays” grief support group Tuesday December 17th from 6:30pm to 8:00pm at St. Michael’s Parish in North Andover.  Free and Open to the Public.  For more information and to register, please call 978-552-4510.

Cat Cafes Across the U.S.

Sometimes you just need a moment to get away and de-stress. Use this North American directory of cat cafes to find a place to quietly drink a cup of tea and pet a kitty nearby. You can always tell your family you’re going out on a food run.

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Anxiety and Depression Comics

Feeling down? Read a comic book! Specifically, read one of these comic books about depression and anxiety. Hey, you’re not going through it alone!

Also, if your sadness and nervousness have been bugging you for a while, therapy can be really helpful. About 20% of Americans are in therapy at any given time. It’s a really common, popular, and effective way to manage your mood when it becomes overwhelming! Psychology Today has a great directory of therapists where you can search by location and filter by what issue you’re having, your particular type of insurance, your preferred gender, and more. We encourage you to check them out.

36005028. sx318 Anxiety Is Really Strange by Steve Haines

This functions as a good first anxiety book for a teenager or older child. It lays out how anxiety works from a physiological standpoint, especially in the nervous system. It’s part of a series that includes a similar examination of trauma.

9920411Depresso, Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Embrace Being Bonkers by Brick

Tom Freeman, loosely based on Brick, is a mess. Anti-depressants are turning him into a zombie and alternative therapies are messing up his life. Still, if there’s a way out of depression, he’ll find it!

Cover image for Hyperbole and a half :Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh

Brosh is known as an Internet-famous humorist, but she also chronicles her struggles with depression in her signature MS Paint style. If you’re a fan of her blog, you’ll love the book, too.

Cover image for Just peachy :Just Peachy by Holly Chisholm

Anxiety and depression are a team in this lighthearted look at mental health. (The tall one is depression, and the winged one – well, you get the idea.) Includes a list of resources at the end!


40538944. sx318 Kind of Coping: An Illustrated Look at Life with Anxiety by Maureen Marzi Wilson

Panic attacks and social awkwardness are par for the course in this endearing biography of obsessive fear. Join Marzi on a surprisingly humorous journey through pointless terror!

1117355. sx318 My Depression by Elizabeth Swados

Educational and honest, this book talks frankly about the triggers, treatments, and trials of someone who personally struggles with the condition of depression. Like Depresso, it deals heavily with the side effects of medication.

39296124. sx318 Super Chill: A Year of Living Anxiously by Adam Ellis

You may know Adam Ellis through his webcomics, which enjoy very wide popularity across the Internet. Here, he discusses his anxiety, which is sometimes crippling and always tough to deal with.


27039276. sx318 When Anxiety Attacks by Terian Koscik

Here’s one where therapy really, really helps! Discussing coping mechanisms and “I” statements, this book is a great resource for people who aren’t sure if therapy is right for them. (hint: if you or your family or your friends think that therapy might be right for you, you might want to try therapy!)

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What’s NaNoWriMo, Precious?

If your friends have suddenly been seized with the writing demon, you’re not alone. National Novel Writing Month occupies the entirety of November. If you’re not a writer and don’t have any idea what I’m talking about, here’s a rundown.

What it is

National Novel Writing Month challenges writers to produce 50,000 words between November 1 and November 30. This pans out to about 1,667 words per day, but because November also includes Thanksgiving, most writers try to work faster than that.

Novels can be about anything, but it’s generally agreed that this isn’t a way to produce a finished piece. Instead, it’s a way to shake off the rust and get your creative juices flowing. Some writers have generated viable first drafts for NaNoWriMo, too. Erin Morgenstern, whose debut, The Night Circus, became a bestseller, drafted her first novel over the course of two NaNoWriMos.

That said, a lot of people don’t worry about writing a cohesive novel for NaNo. Writers have been known to produce short stories, write correspondence, generate computer code, blog, and otherwise dedicate themselves to content creation. 50,000 words of anything is a lot of writing! I’m actually counting this blog post toward my own total.

Well-known authors give pep talks throughout November to participants who register as Wrimos. It’s a creative good time that started with 21 participants in 1999.

How it started

Chris Baty was a hobbyist writer living in the San Francisco Bay area in 1999. He had the idea to challenge writers to generate a novel in 30 days, and sure enough, 21 people took him up on it. That first NaNo was set in July. However, the nice weather proved to be a distraction and the next year, Baty moved the event to wintery, unpleasant November.

2000 was also the year that Baty and a friend set up a website to organize WriMos and help them track their progress. Through a connected Yahoo group, he clarified the rules: the novel had to be new, couldn’t be co-authored, and had to be written and verified entirely within the month of November. Writers who achieved 50,000 words were considered to have “won.” That year, 140 people participated. NaNoWriMo was becoming a national phenomenon.

In 2005, NaNoWriMo was officially so big that it had to be its own company. Baty himself had written a couple of books about banging out a fast first draft, during NaNoWriMo, of course. Thousands of people participated, with membership in this de facto creative organization growing every year. In 2017, over 300,000 people participated from around the world. Tens of thousands met their goal.

How to participate

It’s easy! Just create an account on and get down to business. It’s not too late to catch up! Regions tend to form groups and write cooperatively, sometimes with food present. Events like all-night write-ins and kickoff parties are common. The NaNo website hosts topical and regional forums where writers can support each other.

A lot of libraries also have NaNoWriMo programs. Some of these are in the Merrimack Valley Library Consortium! Check out Hamilton-Wenham’s library NaNo program while November is still in full swing.

So what are you waiting for? Go write that novel today!

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Cook! That! Pumpkin!

Welcome to Halloween Spookytown! Here the chainsaw killers harvest candy corn from the creepy abandoned fields as eerily cheerful children run from deserted house to deserted house ransacking them for full-sized candy bars. That said, we still need our vitamins, so we also eat pumpkins. Here are a few of our favorite recipe books.

20774886Cooking with Pumpkin: Recipes That Go Beyond the Pie by Averie Sunshine

You might know the author’s blog. Now she has a line of cookbooks, and this is the best one of the bunch. (Probably.) Pretty much the entire lineup is cakes, candies, muffins, and the like. Also, there are pumpkin spice drinks and instructions on how to make pumpkin spice. This is the best part of the book. In Halloween Spookytown we wean the children on pumpkin spice.

46742277. sy475 Healthy and Flavorful Pumpkin Cookbook: The Best Pumpkin Recipes for Pumpkin Lovers by Molly Mills

This is a healthier option than the last crowd-pleaser of a cookbook, which means that there is broccoli in it. Nothing is scarier than a Halloween without broccoli! Green bean and pumpkin salad also features, as does the ever-lovin’ black bean and pumpkin bake. Lot of legumes and green stuff in this one. You’ll love it if you’re one of those people who trick or treats for UNICEF.

Cover image for The pumpkin cookbook :The Pumpkin Cookbook: 139 Recipes Celebrating the Versatility of Pumpkin and Other Winter Squash by DeeDee Stovel

The prettiest of pumpkin pictures meets the most useful of pumpkin culinary direction, viz a viz how to cook a pumpkin in a microwave. And here you thought that pumpkin would be a chore! You also can and should grill pumpkin, both on your Weber and in the interrogation room. Wipe that smug grin off its face. It’s in your house now.

29608067. sx318 Pumpkin It Up! by Eliza Cross

Woot! Raise the roof! It’s pumpkin time! If you’ve got it, flaunt it, shake it, and put a pumpkin in it. Interestingly, this same author also wrote a book called 101 Things To Do With A Pickle, and as a result, all of the pumpkin-based ingredients in Pumpkin It Up! can be replaced with pickles. (I assume.) A word to the wary: it does sometimes rely on frankenfood like those buttermilk biscuits that come in a tube and sit next to the eggs at the store, like that makes any sense. But after all, this is Halloween Spookytown, and we’re here for the horror. Just don’t read the label or it’ll get too real.

Cover image for Purely pumpkin :Purely Pumpkin: More Than 100 Seasonal Recipes to Share, Savor, and Warm Your Kitchen by Allison Day

Who knew there were so many different kinds of heirloom pumpkins? You need to collect them. Sample them all. From the American Tonda to the Yokohama, they will grace your home. No orange conformists here! This book is about pumpkin appreciation – nay, pumpkin love. Although it details the many varieties of edible pumpkins on this side of our mortal coil, a large part of the book is about drinks. A surprisingly small number of them use any actual pumpkin and most of this subset of recipes are for pumpkin spice lattes. Oh well. Our love for pumpkin is a complicated creature.

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Science Fiction Featuring People Of Color

Welcome to the 21st century! Science fiction isn’t just about white people anymore, and thank goodness. How plausible is a homogeneous universe? Authors like Nisi Shawl, Maggie Shen, and Omar El Akkad all add some much-needed diversity to sci-fi leading casts. Here are a few books that will shake up your homogeneous reading list.


Cover image for American war American War by Omar El Akkad

In 2074, a new American Civil War breaks out. Sarat find herself in a camp for displaced persons, her father gone, her future uncertain. That makes her a perfect candidate for recruitment, by one side or another.



Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

A homegrown genius from a backwater African village finally gets her chance: she’s going to study hyper-advanced math at a university on a faraway planet. But when her ship is hijacked by an enemy alien en route, she’ll need more than just intellect to save herself!

Devil’s Wake by Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes

When the apocalypse comes, it’ll be weirder than anything fiction imagined. Sure, there are zombies, as well as more dangerous hordes of starving and desperate survivors, but there’s more. There’s a school bus and a vast no-man’s-land. Ultimately, against all odds, there’s love.

Everfair by Nisi Shawl

What would have happened if someone had brought steam technology to the Congo just prior to Belgium’s colonization of that area? This book explores the  possibility of a steam-powered African state, technologically matched to European invaders and capable of holding its borders.

Cover image for An excess male : An Excess Male by Maggie Shen

In a population where the one-child policy has run amok, men vastly outnumber women. As a result, women may take more than one husband…to an extent. When Wei-guo has an opportunity to become a third husband, he leaps at it, suddenly finding the acceptance and connection that he’s craved all his life. But one mistake might put all of that in jeopardy.

The Lesson by Cadwell Turnbull

The Ynaa won’t say why they’re here. For five years, their ship has hovered over Water Island in the Carribbean, coexisting peacably with humans most of the time but reacting to any display of aggression with excessive force. When they kill a child, the showdown that everyone’s dreading becomes inevitable.

How To Live Safely In A Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu

Time travel is a terrible idea. People who attempt it always make things worse for themselves. Charles Yu’s mom, for example, is stuck in a short time loop where all she can ever do, for the rest of time, is make dinner. That leaves his dad, who may still be out there somewhere. Guided by a book written by his own future self, Charles sets out to find him.

Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee

Disgraced warriors unite in this sweeping space opera. Kel Charis, breaker of the rules of war, needs to redeem herself fast. Her mission: retake a critical, unassailable fortress before her heretical enemy takes down the forces of order itself. To accomplish this, Kel’s going to have to employ someone even worse than herself: an undead tactician known mostly for slaughtering his own army.

Cover image for The prey of gods The Prey of Gods by Nicki Drayden

The old gods are washed up, and new ones must take their places. These are gods of machines, gods of computers, and gods of AI. But nobody likes to be supplanted, and as a new goddess rises, an old one determines to dig in and maintain her power, even if that means sacrificing her followers.

The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu

When the laws of physics go haywire, scientists worldwide succumb to despair. Reality isn’t what we thought…or is it? Daring to question the evidence of their very eyes, a few of Earth’s greatest minds unravel clues that may point to something more sinister.


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Civil War Femme Fatales

When you think of the Civil War, do you think of the crafty women who infiltrated enemy lines, risking their lives to pierce the fog of war and retrieve secrets for their side? No? Why on Earth not? The Civil War was all about female espionage. Here are seven fantastic titles, fiction and non-, about the femme fatales of the Civil War.

Cover image for Liar, temptress, soldier, spy :Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: four women undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott

This book follows four women as they hide their identities and take a big risk. As gripping as fiction, this true life story is an ideal book club pick.


Cover image for The spymistress :The Spymistress by Jennifer Chiaverini

Elizabeth van Lew is a Union sympathizer in a Confederate land. Using her education and wits, she’s able to do a lot for the Richmond underground…and the political prisoners being held by the rebels!


Cover image for An extraordinary unionAn Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole

Most people would just be happy to have their freedom after a life begun in slavery. Not Elle Burns! She turns spy and discovers that espionage comes with its share of romantic entanglements in this work of romantic fiction.


Cover image for Stealing secrets :Stealing Secrets: how a few daring women deceived generals, impacted battles, and altered the course of the Civil War by H. Donald Winkler

Did you know that one of the ways that women smuggled war secrets out from behind enemy lines was by concealing them in their hoop skirts? It’s true! All those details and more come to vivid life in this nonfiction book.


Cover image for All the daring of the soldier :All the Daring of the Soldier: women of the Civil War armies by Elizabeth D. Leonard

In an era when the best women could hope for was the life of a servant, many felt that spying was a more stimulating career option. Exploding myths and painting vivid portraits, this nonfiction book is a must-read.


Miss Lizzie's War: The Double Life of Southern Belle Spy Elizabeth Van LewMiss Lizzie’s War: the double life of southern belle spy Elizabeth Van Lew by Rosemary Agonito

This is the spy upon whom Chiaverini’s The Spymistress is based! She was an actual person and her true-to-life story is all written down here, including the clever strategies that she used to aid the Union Army.


Cover image for Wild Rose :Wild Rose: Rose O’Neale Greenhow, Civil War spy by Ann Blackman

Using her Washington connections, this spy for the Confederacy charmed secrets from Union officials as easily as a wave of her fan.